Back in early 2007, when I was attending my very first Sundance Film Festival, one of the first filmmakers I ever met was David Gordon Green. I had just caught the world premiere of his depressing but well-made film Snow Angels, and was honored to be speaking the guy behind that. Over the last six years I've followed David's career closely, falling in love with his mainstream stoner comedy Pineapple Express, questioning his choices but enjoying Your Highness & The Sitter, and finally coming to admire his return to indie form with two films this year - Prince Avalanche, starring Emile Hirsch & Paul Rudd, and Joe, starring Nic Cage & Tye Sheridan (premiering at TIFF). I met up with David in NYC recently for a chat about his latest movies.
"All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there." There is a sci-fi film playing now that's one of the best in a long time. Similar to the upcoming Gravity, it's a film that might not even deserve the science fiction classification because it's much more science reality. The film is titled Europa Report, directed by Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastián Cordero, and it involves a two-year long manned mission to Europa, Jupiter's sixth moon where many have theorized life might exist underneath miles of ice covering the surface. It's an excellent film that I've already seen multiple times and can't wait to watch again. Luckily, I was able to meet with Sebastián Cordero in person for a 17 minute chat about sci-fi and making this film.
"I like emotional experiences - when I go into an art museum, or listen to an album, or see a movie, I like to feel something deeply." One of my favorite indie films this year is The Spectacular Now (watch the trailer), a superb coming-of-age film starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley directed by James Ponsoldt. It first premiered at Sundance, where the year before Ponsoldt brought his second film Smashed, and in 2006 premiered his first film Off the Black. I love Ponsoldt's films and I finally met up with him in New York this past weekend for an interview. It ended up becoming a fantastic discussion on storytelling. One quote: "Don't judge your characters... Just look at them, let them bet he best advocate for themselves."
A few weeks ago, just before the release of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, Warner Bros brought a group of movie bloggers to the San Francisco offices of ILM (or Industrial Light & Magic), the Lucasfilm-owned visual effects (VFX) company. Anyone who grew up watching Star Wars and Indiana Jones knows ILM. I've visited this movie mecca once before in '08, but was still geeking out all day. After a presentation from Guillermo and the ILM team, I sat down with supervising animator Hal Hickel for a chat about Pac Rim and animating characters. Hickel joined ILM in the 1990's after working on Toy Story at Pixar; as a kid he wrote a letter with his ideas for a A New Hope sequel and got a rejection note from Gary Kurtz (seen here).
"My goal here was just to allow the themes to be adult." Hitting theaters this weekend - The Wolverine. The return of Logan, for his 6th time on the big screen, this time in a solo movie set in Japan based on the Miller/Claremont comic arc. At the helm is James Mangold, director of Girl Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma and Knight & Day, along with Hugh Jackman returning as Logan. I screened The Wolverine and actually loved it, and wanted to talk with Mangold about so much of the movie; how they pulled off the fights and the themes of Wolverine they handle so carefully. It's a quick chat, but a good one.
How did they pull it off? Can it live up to the book? These are few of the questions running through my mind to ask the team behind the Ender's Game movie, which we've been following closely for years. With the release of the movie a few months away (in early November), Comic-Con was their big launching grounds. I met up with director Gavin Hood and producer Bob Orci (aka Roberto Orci of K/O Paper Productions) for a brief but invigorating discussion on Ender's Game and this sci-fi adaptation. While they're still keeping secrets, we did talk about spoiling too much in the trailer, pulling off the Zero G, and plenty more. Read on!
Spidey and his villains. Electro. Rhino. The Sinister Six? Maybe. What about a Spidey-Avengers crossover, or Fantastic Four? I had so many fun questions to ask Marc Webb, and what better place than Comic-Con to have a good chat about our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and his foes. I caught up with director Marc Webb, who I have a long history with (interview in 2009, at WonderCon, in 2012), at the 2013 Comic-Con this year where he was presenting the first footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This was also the big unveiling of Jamie Foxx's villain Electro. It was great to catch up with Marc and talk about the sequel.
"I am a student of cinema, and I love filmmaking of all kinds." He may be known as a master of horror, but James Wan is a talented filmmaker no matter what genre he's working in. I have been an admirer of the Australian director's career for a long time. His break-out feature was Saw, but he never directed any of the sequels. Instead, at least until this year, he made more original projects: Dead Silence, Death Sentence (which I actually liked), Insidious and now The Conjuring. Plus, he is attached to direct next year's Fast & Furious 7 and is also ready with his first sequel - Insidious: Chapter 2. I was lucky enough to sit down for an interview with Wan a few weeks ago to talk about The Conjuring, scaring audiences, and making horror.
"Their heads are going to explode." He's a legend - Guillermo del Toro, one of the most lovably geeky yet talented storytellers working today, behind films like Cronos, Blade II, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. His next movie is finally here, Pacific Rim, featuring giant robots called Jaegers fighting giant monsters called Kaiju. I was lucky enough to get 10 minutes to chat with Guillermo and covered as many questions about Pacific Rim and his life as I could in that much time. I always love hearing him talk about anything, but this is a good interview. We talk about his films and budgets, Star Wars, balancing his own life, and much more.
In the middle of April, I was invited to join a few other bloggers on a visit to the 20th Century Fox lot to check out the edit bay of James Mangold's upcoming superhero movie The Wolverine. But we ended up with something way cooler: Mangold himself took us to a private theater on to show us the first 20 minutes of the film, and then he spoke with us for a solid half hour about everything Wolverine fans could want to hear. While the (still unfinished) footage didn't quite convince me, Mangold's passionate description of his take on Logan definitely has me excited to see The Wolverine when it hits theaters next month. More below!
"He sees colors, I hear colors." One of my own favorite composers, and another person I love talking with. A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with composer Hans Zimmer for a lengthy discussion about making the new Superman score for Man of Steel, as well as originality and his working process. This is the third time I've talked with him, but it turned out even better than I hoped. He covers everything about Man of Steel and his work over the last few years including The Dark Knight, referencing John Williams, Chris Nolan and how he hears "colors" when coming up with music. It's a riveting and enlightening in-depth 25 minute chat with a legendary composer who has the remarkable talent of creating exhilarating scores. Watch below.
I've been following Zack Snyder since the very early days of FirstShowing. It was an article I wrote about 300 back in late 2006 that put me on his radar, and I have been invited to visit the sets of all of his movies since - Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel. During the release of Watchmen, I spoke with Zack in a 20-minute interview and have met him many times over the last seven years. With the release of Man of Steel on the horizon, I was given the opportunity to talk with Zack Snyder again in Los Angeles and flew in just to record the interview in person on Flipcam. I wanted to ask about his career and decisions regarding Superman, and present this unique interview and discussion with Zack that cannot be found anywhere else.
"Art is not about perfection... perfection is not art." Now this is a great interview. At the end of the Cannes Film Festival I was given the opportunity to interview Nicolas Winding Refn, the controversial Danish writer & director of Only God Forgives, Drive, Valhalla Rising and Bronson. I was at Cannes back in 2011 when Drive premiered and was on the positive side of Only God Forgives when it premiered this year. I lucked out and ended up having a full 22-minute video discussion with Refn in Cannes, covering art and cinema to the Chinese food he just ate, to collaboration in Thailand and violence in society to everything else inbetween. Plus, that James Bond scoop I posted the other day is my last question at the end. Must watch!
2013's breakout success - Ryan Coogler. He swept the awards at Sundance this year, with Fruitvale taking home both the Grand Jury & Audience Award, then went on to play Cannes to a standing ovation. Next stop, Oscars? Well, before we get to that, it's time to catch up with the man behind it all, Ryan Coogler himself. I've been looking forward to talking with him ever since first seeing Fruitvale during Sundance. I finally got the chance to catch up with Ryan and chat about the film on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival this summer. The interview was recorded on a Flipcam and gives a good introduction to the story. Watch below.